Suggestions that President Trump’s anti-media tweets amount to calls to violence drew skepticism from political operatives on both sides of the aisle, with one citing a double standard and asking why criticisms of GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise after he was shot were not viewed the same way.
Trump’s tweet of him throwing punches with “CNN” superimposed on the target’s head drew rebuke from the network, which said the tweet “encourages violence against reporters,” as well as Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Violence & violent imagery to bully the press must be rejected,” Pelosi tweeted. “This #July4th, celebrate freedom of the press, guardians to our democracy.”
But Democratic operative Scott Ferson, former press secretary to U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, questioned if that’s too great of a leap.
“Not every tweet is a threat,” Ferson said. “One thing that Democrats are really, really guilty about is, we’re guilty of hyperbole, and the president drives us to it.”
GOP strategist Rob Gray said it cuts both ways, citing liberals who harped on Scalise’s politics after he was shot by a Bernie Sanders supporter. Some celebrities have directed violent threats at Trump, as well.
“Trump may be guilty of it, but liberal interest groups and elected officials are guilty of it, too,” Gray said. “I think most voters see it as fairly transparent.”
The issue played out on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, where White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert was asked to respond the tweet. Host Martha Raddatz said it “seems like a threat,” adding some journalists have hired private security.
“I think no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don’t,” Bossert replied. “But I do think that he’s beating up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to.”
Later in the program, CNN commentator and Republican strategist Ana Navarro said Trump “is going to get somebody killed in the media, maybe that will stop him.”
“There’s way too many unstable people out in the streets right now at this time of impassioned and heightened passions,” Navarro said. “We all know it. We’ve all seen it. We have seen the results of harassment. We’ve seen the results of shootings. We’ve seen the result of violence out in the street.”
“I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don’t. But I do think that he’s beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to. He’s simply pushing back defending himself,” – Thomas Bossert, Homeland Security adviser.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
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